This scroll represents the type called Gaster I (for explanation, see "Additional Remarks"), lavishly decorated megillot produced in a mixture of print and manuscript techniques: the decorative border is printed as a copper engraving and colored by hand, while the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The opening section is filled with a rich, precisely rendered, decoration of tendrils, flowers, and animals that surround a cartouche. The upper and lower margins are adorned with a pattern of repeating endless knot motifs alternating between 20 cartouches, each of which depicts between one and three scenes of the Book of Esther; in this scroll, the background behind them is left colorless. The ten text panels, in which nineteen text columns are included, are separated by stylized floral ornamentation. The same scheme repeats on all three sheets of this scroll. The pattern ends with a symmetrical decoration composed of large flowers and foliate ornaments surrounding a cartouche.
The manuscript (the text, the decorations, and the parchments) is very well preserved.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets containing 19 columns of the text with 22 lines each, except for col. 16 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The number of columns per sheet: no. 1 - 6, no. 2 - 8, no. 3 - 5.
The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script in black ink on the flesh side of parchment sheets that are very bright.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are not highlighted in the text. Some letters included in col. 16 seem to be larger.
The ruling made with a hardpoint can be seen.
The pricking is invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The name "Gaster I" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in his article entitled "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" (see "Bibliography"). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and manuscript collector, who owned a scroll adorned with this pattern (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 710 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester - ID 36150). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".
The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of the Klagsbald type (in the Index see "Klagsbald type Esther scrolls").
According to the catalogue by Shachar (p. 156; see "Bibliography"), it was "Acquired in 1932 by exchange with the Jewish Museum, Vienna".
The scroll is shortly described in:
Isaiah Shachar, Jewish Tradition in Art. The Feuchwanger Collection of Judaica, Jerusalem 1981, object 413, p. 156.
Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432.
Cornelia Bodea, Treasures of Jewish Art. The 1673 Illuminated Scroll of Esther Offered to a Romanian Hierarch, Iaşi–Oxford–Palm Beach–Portland 2002.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 240-241.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 262-263.
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Esther Scrolls from the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Tradition of Megillot Esther Decoration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries – An Outline [Polish: Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megilot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:99-119, 2:64-69.
Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.